A looming lack of access to healthcare is hovering over Mexico even as many public and private hospitals have idle infrastructure, but opportunities will emerge for investment to improve medical care and prevention, according to Mexico Health Summit 2016’s first panel, “Beds for Everyone – Sharing the Burden.”
The panel offered differing views on the root cause of the problem. Jaime Cervantes, CEO of Grupo Vitalmex, said that income inequality was to blame but Alejandro Alfonso, CEO of ABC Hospitals, suggested it was the absence of information in medical issues, which causes an inefficient use of services. “The main problem is the misuse of infrastructure as Mexico is facing a duplication of infrastructure and services,” he said. Alfonso added that this highlighted the need for better information systems to tackle the problem.
Health authorities must also study today’s problems to find a fix for the future, suggested Guillaume Corpart, Managing Director of Global Health Intelligence. “It is necessary to make a comprehensive analysis of today’s situation and how will it change in the future.” He showed concern about Mexico’s aging population and Mexico’s shifting demographics because “today’s solutions will not help in 30 years.”
A possible strategy to address an aging population and also avoid hospital saturation and increase efficiency is home care, said moderator Antonio Prida, Founding Partner of Curtis Mallet-Prevost Abogados. Corpart agreed. “Addressing an older population through home care is a more efficient solution as hospital infrastructure for all of them is too expensive.” He also suggested Mexico should emulate Brazil, Chile and Colombia, which are making great progress in home care. Cervantes concurred and proposed another example being implemented in India: an app which puts doctors and patients in immediate contact without the need for either to visit a hospital.
The panelists agreed there was an across-the-board need for better cooperation, which was being hampered by the lack of homogenization. Expanding on the impact of income inequality, Alfonso said that programs public and private institutions are developing, such as “Salud Digna,” are designed to complement the healthcare system but these different projects need to be homogenized.
Lack of homogenization made coordinating efforts difficult, Corpart added, highlighting the deficiencies in coordinating public systems and in cooperation between the public and private sectors. Alfonso agreed on the importance of this collaboration and pointed out a key problem: “Bureaucracy is the great impediment to this collaboration,” he said.
Inconsistency is another issue hampering the system. “There are great inconsistencies within the 14 healthcare systems,” Cervantes said. “The government should homologate them to create an equal base for collaboration.” Homologation could have other positive repercussions, Corpart added, pointing out the relevance of homologation to increasing portability across healthcare systems, something that could be improved through electronic means.
In response to an audience member, Prida questioned the role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to build hospitals. Alfonso said this was not only possible but is already being done, adding that “in my experience these collaborations are not being used appropriately.” While he praised the formula, he suggested the existing model for collaboration needed improving for these partnerships to be truly successful.
The panel concluded with all members in agreement of the size of the challenge. “We need to work on establishing a long-term model,” said Alfonso. He restated the importance of generating solutions to the problem: “We are facing an enormous challenge from an aging population and chronic diseases, which will only worsen in 20 years.”
Contributed article by Alicia Arizpe